Home Sweet (Minimized) Home

There I was, feeling pretty accomplished about all this Near-O Waste stuff, when I read an article by Lindsay Miles: Can you be Zero-Waste and a Minimalist? Suddenly, our new way of life didn’t seem to make sense. We were buying very little packaging, and making very little trash, but our house was jumbled with things we didn’t need. I knew in that moment that I had to become a minimalist, or at least my version of one.

So for three weeks, I stayed up way past my bedtime and skipped my morning workouts in order to analyze everything we own; a project that would have taken a year if I hadn’t made the extra time. I started a discard pile in the playroom, which soon became a mountain. Literally, our kids would climb it. Mementos I’d saved, which were meaningful at the time but now seemed like clutter… things I hadn’t used since can’t-remember-when… clothes I knew, deep down, I would never wear again… books that had been collecting dust since college… and random computer cables all met their fate on the mountain. We ended up with one truckload of Goodwill items, another load bound for the recycling center, and four bags of actual trash. Sorry, Landfill, but they were bound to get there sooner or later.

“The Mountain”
Get out of my life!
Goodwill bound…

If you’ve been to our house, or seen it on film, you know we aint livin’ in a magazine. Our house is… not an ordinary house. It’s actually two-thirds of my parents’ house that’s been remodeled, altered, cut apart, and pieced back together several times over the last half-century. Our house is small, humble, colorful, unique (a.k.a funky), and full of love. The funny thing is, it’s still full of stuff! But at least now it’s stuff we actually use or care about, and it’s a lot easier to keep it all organized.

How can this decluttered way of life last?

I’m diligent (that’s a nice way of saying it) about putting everything back where it belongs and making sure others do the same, which is a daily challenge.

I have a “no accumulation policy”, meaning I don’t (or try really hard not to) acquire things I don’t want or need. If someone offers me a business card, I take a picture of it and hand back the original. If I’m offered freebies, I say, “No, thank you.” And fortunately, many of the people in my life are aware of my crazy ways and grace me with consumable gifts (or gift cards, so I can *choose wisely*).


I’ve personally called every company that sends me junk mail to be removed from their mailing list. I’ve switched to paperless statements wherever possible, and when I receive an important paper, it gets filed immediately. If I do buy something new, I get rid of an equivalent item. So in theory, I will never have more than I do now.

A few months ago, I replaced my only pair of flip flops (which broke after three years). I salvaged the hearts for my “February shelf”. I also bought my first allover-sun-protection hat. I donated my only other non-trucker hat, which I fell out of love with a while ago. P.S. I’m open to shopping second hand, but *not* for hats or shoes!

When we “need” something new, we ask ourselves if we can fix the old one or find an alternative.

Broken broom top; lethal and hazardous.
Random bottle cap +
masking tape. Pretty ghetto, I must admit, but we didn’t send anything to the landfill, or spend any cash.
When we lost our tee-ball bat, my husband wanted to buy a new one, but I wanted to hold out. A few days later, I noticed one at my friend’s house in a pile of toys she’d planned on taking to Goodwill. Bingo, Near-O, and FREE-O!

If we can’t find a solution, we wonder if we really need it. When our living room clock broke, we started checking the time on the DVR instead of buying a new one.

Best of all, I want nothing. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I want very little. It seriously feels so good! I pretty much have everything I need at this point in life and I love not buying things! When I do decide to bring something permanent into my house, I make a thoughtful decision and try to make that thing last forever!


The Living Room:

The “reading rainbow” shelf holds 90% of our books and the shelf below changes each month. (This is how I justify holding onto some select trinkets!)
The TV stand holds our Shutterfly albums. Not giving those up, of course! But I do have a new plan of attack for 2016.


The Kitchen:

Alright, alright, it’s not this uncluttered *all the time*, but I was about to be filmed when I took this picture!


Our Bedroom:


Ahhh, accesible emptiness.
My beloved clutter-free corner, where I barely ever get to sit!
My husband’s desk space (and extra freezer); way less cluttered than it used to be. We got rid of some things, and hid the rest in a filing cabinet.

IMG_6315 IMG_6319

Our Bathroom and Closet:

IMG_6516 IMG_6517

Junk revealed: Drawers filled with important papers, computer accessories, and luggage. To the right- emergency backpacks. Above- packaging materials for one of my husband’s side jobbies.
We went from two rows of clothes to one! Extra sheets and blankets in the chest below.
The dark dungeon of shoes, hats, and accessories.

Kids’ Room and Playroom:

Plain and simple.

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Playroom by day, my office by night.
When I said 90% of our books were on that rainbow shelf, I meant mine and my husband’s! Our kids have over 1,000 that my mom and I have collected over the last 35 years. We’re keeping them, but we rarely buy new books, and have been thoroughly enjoying the library.


Funky Storage Spaces of all Shapes and Sizes:

More stuff… my monthly boxes and the kids’ toys.
The juicer, crockpot, placemats for kids’ lunches, my collection of Annie Glass plates, and our secret monthly packaged items.
This space used to be terribly stuffed! Now it just holds extra towels, seasonal entry rugs, a waffle maker, a fan, a serving tray, and my family’s old scrabble board.

The “Bar” (as we call it)

Okay, no, I don’t need the rainbow bottle cap mosaic I made in college, but it’s so cool and bar-appropriate! The playing cards in a row on the second shelf are now my only souvenir from our travels (one deck per state).

Disclaimer: We also have home-brewing equipment in our front shower, a closet full of tools that I haven’t dealt with yet, an outdoor camping shed that could use some Near-O Waste assessment, and a small attic I’m trying to forget about. Ahhhh! So my work’s not finished. (Is it ever?) But it feels good to have most of it done, and I loved looking at these pictures because our house doesn’t look *quite* so good at the moment!


5 thoughts on “Home Sweet (Minimized) Home

    • Near-O Waste July 2, 2015 / 1:32 am

      Ha! Awesome, Lindsay. We’re good for each other 🙂 Best of luck with the re-de-cluttering!


  1. Lindsay (treadingmyownpath) July 2, 2015 / 12:06 am

    I love this! You’re making me feel guilty though – I just can’t do the big declutters like you have! I reckon I’ve got rid of less than you, and t’s taken me 3 years to get that far. I’m really itching to have a big declutter again soon, but I feel like I don’t have the time. Still, I have sorted a big empty box ready to fill with things I no longer need, so will just have to chip away at it ; )

    Thanks for re-igniting my decluttering flame and for the inspiration (right back at you!) ; )


  2. jackimay August 9, 2015 / 2:33 pm

    Looks great! We are gearing up for a move overseas and have been decluttering for a while (where does all the stuff come from!!). Love fellow minimalist and zero waste inspired bloggers. Keep up the awesome work.


    • Near-O Waste August 9, 2015 / 4:06 pm

      Thank you! Good luck with the move, how exciting. Definitely inspiration to downsize, eh? 🙂


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